As frustrating as it was for Alabama fans to watch last year’s defense, it was not as bad as the picture that people painted.
Did it win a national championship? No, but the Crimson Tide did finish in the top-20 of college football for total defense, scoring defense and pass defense.
Alabama was in the top-five for pass efficiency defense and turnover margin.
Alabama’s defensive numbers in 2019
-18.6 ppg allowed, 13th in the nation
-324.5 ypg allowed, 20th in the nation
-187.2 passing yards/gm, 11th in the nation
-109.7 passer rating allowed, 4th in the nation
-+18 turnover margin, 3rd in the nation
-17 interceptions, tied for 5th in the nation
Despite injuries, lack of discipline and lack of communication at times, Anfernee Jennings led the team and was third in the Southeastern Conference for sacks (eight). Xavier McKinney carried the defense with 95 total tackles and was able to keep the group together. Even with playing two freshmen linebackers, Christian Harris and Shane Lee made strides each game.
For Pete Golding, he enters his second season as the primary defensive coordinator and he is excited to show fans that last year was not his fault. A native of Hammond, La., the 36-year-old will enter his third year with the Tide in the fall after spending the 2017 and 2018 seasons at the University of Texas-San Antonio as its defensive player caller and cornerbacks’ coach.
He spoke on his excitement to be at Alabama last August, when he was promoted to coordinator, and the fire is still there.
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Golding was under the idea that would have Dylan Moses, Joshua McMillon, LaBryan Ray and DJ Dale for a full season in 2019; however, injuries to all players altered the plan and the young defensive mind had to adjust the best way he could.
When one has to deal with medical mishaps to starters/contributors, constantly train freshmen each week and work with players that don’t understand the “Bama factor,” even the most experienced of coaches would struggle.
This will not be the case for Golding in the fall, as yours truly of TDA Magazine names three reasons why he will lead the defense to a national title.
1. Alabama returns a healthy roster; leadership players will be in pocket
To have Moses, McMillon, Ray and Dale all back healthy is a major feather in Golding’s hat.
Alabama will be three-deep at every defensive position, which means depth and competition shall be strong in getting the best players on the field. In its five national championships under Nick Saban, the Tide has boasted student-athletes that understood the importance of winning.
It was those players that policed the team and checked attitudes at the door. Alabama did not have the leadership from the players in the last two years, but it returns this fall.
2. The influence of David Ballou and Dr. Matt Rhea
Scott Cochran will be missed at Alabama.
He carried a unique personality, infectious voice and people considered him as the backbone of Saban’s dynasty with the Crimson Tide.
Nevertheless, David Ballou and Dr. Matt Rhea are the best in college football for they provide.
After going through season-ending injuries, Saban was ready for a new approach and the duo that’s in specialize in flexibility and injury prevention.
If both guys can decrease the amount of major medical issues, Alabama stands more of an opportunity to keep its starters and rotation players on the field. A healthy team equals a national championship group, especially after the Tide suffered losses to both LSU and Auburn in 2019.
3. Addition of Charlie Strong
He will be the biggest help to Golding.
Charlie Strong, 59, is regarded by his peers and student-athletes as one of the best defensive coordinators, father figures and mentors in the sport. He coached Florida’s defense to a pair of BCS National Championships in 2006 and 2008, while putting a lot of guys in the NFL Draft.
He may not have been the greatest head coach, but not everyone is cut out to run an entire operation. Some people are exceptional schemers and strategist and for Strong, he is elite in crafting formations where players can be successful.
He chose Alabama over Florida as his destination to be an analyst and as the latest member of the Saban rehab center for coaches, Strong is prepared to show the nation he has not lost a step. The elder statesman will provide wisdom, idea and different tactics to help Golding mature as the next coach on the rise.
He will coordinate things off the scene and propel the Tide back to being a feared unit.
Strong and Golding both have something to prove. Two heads on this are better than one.
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